Vice-captain David Warner has warned Australia may not be able to field a team in the Ashes series as talks between players and Cricket Australia become increasingly embittered.
Warner was responding to a letter sent by Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland to the players’ union, the Australian Cricketers Association, which warned players might not be paid after June 30 unless they agree to a new pay structure advocated by the national body.
Sutherland said Cricket Australia “is not contemplating alternative contracting arrangements to pay players beyond 30 June if their contracts have expired.” He also warned players that in the absence of a new agreement, “players with contracts expiring in 2016-17 will not have contracts for 2017-18.”
Sutherland said the ACA “unfairly placed current players in a difficult position” by encouraging players to reject “relatively minor but necessary changes to the existing pay model.”
His letter, leaked to Australian media on Friday, inflamed an already bitter negotiation between Cricket Australia and the ACA which has expressed the players’ wish to retain the revenue-sharing model under which they have been paid for at least two decades.
While some players have taken to social media to express opposition to Sutherland’s letter, Warner is the first senior player to comment substantially on the issue.
In a blunt warning to Cricket Australia, Warner told Fairfax Media on Monday “if it gets to the extreme, they might not have a team for the Ashes.
“I really hope they can come to an agreement … we don’t really want to see this panning out like that where we don’t have a team, we don’t have cricket in the Australian summer. It is up to CA to deal with the ACA. It’s obviously in their hands.”
Warner said if Cricket Australia ceased paying players after June 30 and refused to consider short-term contracts which would allow players to be paid until a new agreement is reached, players might be forced to continue their careers overseas.
“If we don’t have contracts we are going to have to find some cricket to play somewhere else … otherwise we don’t get paid,” Warner said. “A few boys might go over to play the Caribbean Premier League and there could be some of the England Twenty20s on as well.”
The ACA has called for the dispute to go to independent mediation but Cricket Australia so far has not agreed to that course.
Warner said the players would not be intimidated.
“We won’t buckle at all, we are standing together and very strong. We want a fair share and the revenue-sharing model is what we want, so we are going to stick together until we get that.”